Bhubaneswar: The USA men’s hockey team Saturday arrived in Odisha to participate in the FIH Men’s Series Finals Odisha 2019 here scheduled to be played from June 6 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium.
Earlier Friday, hockey players from Poland and Russia had arrived in Bhubaneswar with the hopes of securing their berth in the next round of qualification for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 as they take part in the series.
Both Poland and Russia are grouped with India and Uzbekistan in Pool A, and the competition for the top-spot in the Pool will be tough. However, both the visiting teams believe that they will be able to at least secure the second spot in Pool A’s points table.
Speaking on the team’s arrival, Poland’s Maciej Janiszewski, said, “It is a difficult task as if we finish third or fourth, we don’t get promoted for the next round. So it is important for us to finish in the top-two to progress to the FIH Men’s Olympic Qualifiers 2019.
”Of course, we are in a tough Pool with hosts India being there and it will be a challenging for us. We have played India once before this year where we lost 0-5, but we have prepared well this time, and are looking forward to producing a better performance,” he added.
Commenting on weather conditions, he said, “We have come here a week before, so we have given ourselves enough time to prepare and get acclimatised to the conditions here. It is definitely hot here, and we are not used to it, but we are going to train and prepare in the best way possible, and hopefully we will be able to adjust in this one week before the start of the tournament.”
World No 22 Russia have not played much hockey this year, but their Captain Denis Scshipachev said that his team is well-prepared to compete.
“We have prepared very well for the FIH Men’s Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019. We had a few camps in Russia and in Europe, so we are very confident of doing well here. We are going to play our first match against India in a stadium filled with a large crowd,” he said.
”It is going to be a huge challenge for us to play the host country, but we are looking forward to starting well against India, and a good performance shall give us more confidence going into the other two Pool matches,” he added.
Russia will play India in their first match of the tournament on Thursday while Poland is scheduled to play Uzbekistan on the same day.